OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


            When individuals hear the name “Lucifer,” they immediately think of the spiritual adversary of man known as the devil.  Presently, there is a new television series entitled “Lucifer.”  It depicts the fallen angel as a man now living in the city of Los Angeles.  The story line is that he became dissatisfied with his position in hell and decided to retire in “the city of angels.”  Shows like this rarely teach the truth about Satan.  The devil is not a being to be treated lightly.  Peter described his devilish ways in I Peter 5:8.  “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.”

            The name “Lucifer” is only found one time in the Bible.  It is recorded by the prophet Isaiah in the fourteenth chapter of his prophecy.  In verse 12, he writes:  “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, sun of the morning!   How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”  Two things have caused individuals to believe that this is a reference to Satan.  First, there are the words, “…thou art fallen from heaven.”  Second, the name Lucifer means “morning star,” a reference to Satan’s being an angel in heaven.  In the context, however, the prophet is not writing about the devil.  The passage has immediate reference to the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar.  In verse four, we read:  “That thou shalt take up a proverb against the king of Babylon, and say…”  The words that follow, including verse twelve, have specific reference to that wicked ruler.

            Nebuchadnezzar was a very powerful monarch.  He conquered many nations.  His kingdom became a world empire.  He had wealth and riches in abundance.  Among the nations, he stood out like “the morning star.”  In his mind, and in the minds of others, his throne was high and lofty.  Many looked upon him as if he were one of the gods of the heavens.  The prophet used these thoughts to address the king of Babylon.  His words, however, did not honor the king.  No, they foretold of his destruction.  He would fall from his place of honor and power.  Lucifer would be “cast down to the ground.”

            If this text applies to the king of Babylon, why do so many individuals apply the name “Lucifer” to the devil?  The answer to this question comes from a study of other passages that teach us things about the devil.  At one time, Satan was an angel of God.  He is not an eternal being.  Thus, he was never part of the Godhead.  He was created by God to be one of His ministering spirits.  At some point, he was lifted up with pride.  I Timothy 3:6 indicates this.  Paul, giving the qualifications of elders, writes:  “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.”  Elders are not to be men of pride and arrogance.  If so, they, too, can fall into condemnation just as the devil did.

            Satan’s pride led him to sin and rebellion.  Because of his transgressions, he and other angels who followed him were cast out of heaven.  Both Peter and Jude refer to this in their epistles.  Peter tells us:  “For it God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (II Pet. 2:4).  We are not provided with all of the details about Satan’s sin.  His prominence, his pride, his rebellion, and his fall are recorded.  Because Satan’s situation resembled the situation of Nebuchadnezzar, many feel that Satan could also be called Lucifer.  Perhaps he was the original Lucifer.

            There is another text in the Bible that speaks of the fall of a king and seems to resemble the fall of Satan.  The prophecy is found in the book of Ezekiel.  In Ezekiel 28:12, the prophet begins with these words:  “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus…”  From this point on he describes this earthly ruler.  Listen, however, to the terminology.  “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God…” (v. 12).  Thou art the anointed cherub…” (v. 14).  “Thou was perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (v. 15).  “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness…” (v. 17).  Descriptive words like these are very interesting, especially since they are used of an earthly ruler.  This writer is of the opinion that the Holy Spirit chose these words because of the resemblances that He saw between Satan and his fall and the king of Tyre and his fall.  He linked them together by terminology that applied to both.  They both were arrogant and rebellious.  They both were enemies of God and the people of God.  They both would be ultimately defeated by the Almighty God.

            If Lucifer means a morning star that fell from his lofty position because of pride and sin, then the name can easily be applied to Satan.  In the context of Isaiah 14, however, it specifically applies to the king of Babylon.  This writer believes that if one uses the name Lucifer as a name for Satan, the person needs to know why it applies to the evil one.  Too, let us always be careful in our Bible study.  We need to make certain that passages are always kept in their context.  Lifting a passage from it environment can cause us to misinterpret and apply the Scriptures improperly.  Paul exhorts us to interpret the Scriptures with a straight cut (II Tim. 2:15).